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You Cannot Be Serious [Hardcover]

John McEnroe , James Kaplan


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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  93 reviews
129 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the real McEnroe, tennis, friends, marriages 2 Sep 2002
By Michael Chernick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John McEnroe was a freshman at Stanford during my last year of graduate school. He joined the top ranked team in the nation and as a freshman became the star of the team and led them to a national championship and an undefeated season. He left to turn pro after his freshman year. Yet this could have been expected. Before arriving on the scene at Stanford he made a miraculous run as a junior reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon! All this and more is detailed in this book.
The book is basically a look at McEnroe's life, how he was involved in sports at an early age and actually liked team sports like basketball better than tennis. This and his natural patriotism explain why he played Davis Cup so much and encouraged others to do the same.
Most of the book deals with his childhood friendships and his ascension in the tennis ranks to his run as the number one player in tennis. He describes his great matches and you get an inside look at what led to his great victories and his agonizing defeats. He even replays as best he can his terrible fold to Lendl in the only French Open he really should have won.
Part of his purpose in writing this book is to give you a look at what was going on inside him when he had his infamous tirades on the tennis court. He reveals the New Yorker inside of him and his inability to control his temper. Contrary to what many think this was not something that he did for advantage. McEnroe felt that these outburst hurt his matches as much as it helped him. He also usually felt bad or guilty about it afterwards.
John McEnroe is an intelligent and complex person and that comes out if you read this book closely. Late in the book you get a glimpse at his personal life. His marriage to Tatum O'Neill and the problems that led to their stormy divorce. Unlike what most people think, he does not blame her for the problems and does accept some of the responsibility. But he definitely wants to dispell the notion that he tried to hold back her acting career in favor of his tennis career.
We also get a glimpse of his second marriage to Patty Smyth and how his attempts with his own rock band nearly caused problems in that marriage.
McEnroe seems to be a much more content soul these days. He has his tennis commentating and received the honor of Davis Cup captain and induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame that were oviously very satisfying achievements. Still it seems that he wants to change his public personna. The bad boy image is not something he is proud of and this book and his recently unsuccessful TV quiz show seem to be attempts to reconstruct his image. He also has a very good sense of humor which comes across in this book as well as in his TV commercials
52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McEnroe, a complex and remarkable person. 12 Jun 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
McEnroe is an enigma. He was certainly one of the greatest tennis players of all time, a joy to watch in his prime for his extraordinary skill. His behavior was abominable sometimes, just plain out-of-line by most standards. Many people have written him off as worthy of no respect for that reason, yet he really was a great player, is now the best male commentator on TV (in my opinion), and a very altruistic person, (he is one of the top charity fund raisers in the tennis world.) If I remember correctly, he was honored as father of the year in his native New York recently.
In this book, he speaks for himself. He doesn't forgive his behavior or suggest it was appropriate, and he does apologize. Yet, it is easier to see his many sides. He talks about being so alone on the tennis court. He loved Davis Cup partly because it was a team sport. I've always thought he was such a strong person, able to take the unpopular stand on things, but reading his own words, he comes across as remarkably insecure and craving approval. The public adulation of being #1 was his motivation more than an innate love of playing tennis. I find that amazing.
I am a tennis player and fan, and I try hard to separate great achievers from their personal beliefs and private lives. This book helped me to understand the man, the person, the little boy, the young adult with extraordinary skills who found himself pulled into a fantastic world where he was supremely successful but lacked the character to achieve greatness in all areas. At least he is open about that. This is his point of view, and he deserves his say. The book is well written, I feel like I just had a nice long conversation with this remarkable person.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't stick to tennis, but... 17 Jun 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're a tennis player and have been following McEnroe since he was a kid, you might enjoy this book. I am, I have, and I did. But for most people, the book may be slightly disappointing. It's pretty heavy on recounting the results of past matches, and doesn't have as many interesting insights as I would have expected, especially considering that I find McEnroe as a commentator to be uniquely insightful and compelling.
I got the sense that, while McEnroe did write about some personal stuff, like his marriage to Tatum O'Neill, he was less open than he could have been. I don't blame him for wanting to hold back -- I wouldn't want my life to be an open book. But if you're writing a book about yourself and your life, that's sort of the point.
So if you would share McEnroe's nostalgia about the Port Washington Tennis Academy and his various matches up and down the ranks of the tennis world, go ahead and get this book. But if you're not a serious McEnroe/tennis fan, you might be better off just listening to McEnroe on TV.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an honest look at the personal life of John P. McEnroe in his own words 22 Jan 2008
By Michael R. Chernick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When McEnroe was a freshman at Stanford, I was in my last year of graduate school there. He joined the top ranked college tennis team and became the star as a freshman. He led Stanford to another national championship and an undefeated season. Then he turned pro after his freshman year. This was disappointing at Stanford but should have been expected. Before arriving on the scene at Stanford he made a miraculous run at Wimbledon reaching the semi-finals as a junior tennis player! All this and more is discussed in detail in this book.

This book basically takes a not too serious look at McEnroe's life, how he was involved in sports at an early age and actually liked team sports such as basketball better than tennis. His natural patriotism explains why he played Davis Cup so much and encouraged others to do the same.

Much of the book deals with his childhood friendships and his ascension in the tennis ranks all the way through his run as the number 1 player in the world. He describes many of his classic matches and you get a glimpse of what was going on in his mind during his great victories at Wimbledon and agonizing defeats (e.g. Lendl at the French Open).

Part of the reason for writing the book was to give the reader an inside look at what was going on during his infamous tirades on the tennis court. He reveals his New York upbringing and his inability to control his temper. Later on in the book we get to see some of the personal side. Inspite of the stormy divorce to Tatum O'Neal, John does not display animosity toward her in this book and he actually accepts part of the blame for the break-up. But he definitely wants to dispell the notion that he tried to hold her back in her acting career in favor of her supporting his tennis.

You also get a glimpse at his second and apparently very successful marriage to the rock star Patty Smyth. You also see how his attempts at leading his own rock group caused some turmoil in that marriage.

McEnroe is a very intelligent and complex person. His intelligence and tennis skills are often overlooked or played down by tennis fans because of his notorious cry baby attitude that he displayed so prominently on the court. His tantrums were accepted and tolerated by tennis officials because of his great success and the interest it brought to tennis. But he was a poor role model that others copied. He was not the first though. Remember Ille Nastase!

McEnroe seems to be much more content these days. He has been a successful tennis commentator and received the honor of being named the US team's Davis Cup captain and was elected into the Tennis Hall of Fame. These were obviously very satisfying achievements. Still it seems that he wrote this book to help change his public personna. He is not happy with his bad boy image and by writing this book and hosting a TV quiz show he hopes to show a different side of him as he reconstructs his image. He has a very good sense of humor that comes through in the book as well as in some of his recent TV commercials.

I also found it interesting to hear about his relaionship with Mary Carillo. They both are tennis commentators now. Also John's brother Patrick has made his mark on the tennis world, not through his mediocre fennis career but for his estute commentator, more insightful than his brother John and his success as a Davis Cup captain who brought the cup back to the USA this year.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original Bad Boy Tells His Story 19 Aug 2002
By Timothy Haugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I became interested in tennis watching Jimmy Conners, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe play tennis. My brother and I would go to the park on US Open and Wimbleton weekends and pretend we were the different pros while playing our mildly [bad] matches. I was a fan on McEnroe's but it was always kind of a love/hate relationship because I saw my childish self in him. I was a bit petulant myself when I played sports but, on the other hand, I was always embarrassed by my behavior and wished I could control it. I guess I projected some of these feelings onto McEnroe.
It was nice, therefore, to read his book. To be honest, I really didn't know much about him and it was interesting to get a look at how he became a tennis star. And interesting to see what he did with his fame. Let's face it, people like McEnroe get to do a lot more than those of us who work for a living and it's fun to live vicariously through them. This isn't a book filled with shocking revelations, if that's what you're looking for, but it is a real romp at times.
I tend to read autobiographies as opposed to biographies. I think it's usually more fun to read what a person has to say about themselves as opposed to what others have to say about them. A person writing about their own life has an agenda, of course, just like any biographer but this just tells you even more about them. In this book, despite the help from Mr. Kaplan, McEnroe sounds like McEnroe. And that's what I wanted to read. If you are a fan, you should definitely take a look.
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